IRL: Nashville: Chip Ganassi Racing qualifying report

Target IndyCar Team Earns Second Consecutive Pole Position; Wheldon Starts First, Dixon Third at Nashville Nashville, TN, Friday, July 14th, 2006-- Dan Wheldon posted his second pole position in as many race weekends for Target Chip...

Target IndyCar Team Earns Second Consecutive Pole Position; Wheldon Starts First, Dixon Third at Nashville

Nashville, TN, Friday, July 14th, 2006-- Dan Wheldon posted his second pole position in as many race weekends for Target Chip Ganassi Racing with a fast lap speed of 203.293 mph on the 1.33 mile concrete oval at Nashville Superspeedway as the track temperature reached 123 degrees. Target teammate Scott Dixon won't be too far behind on the starting grid after setting the third fastest qualifying lap of the day.

This marks the Britton's fourth career pole position, his second in a row, after starting first on the grid just two weeks ago in Kansas. Wheldon is the first driver this season to start consecutive races from the pole. The no. 10 Target car was nearly a mile an hour faster than its closest rival, Sam Hornish Jr., who will share the front row.

"This was a good run, but we need a race win. "said Wheldon who's previous best qualifying effort at Nashville was fourth (2004) and best finish was fourth during the 2003 season."We've been chasing the red and white cars of Penske all year. It's seems like Sam and I are in a familiar place again. I just need to drive the thing fast tomorrow. We're in the championship hunt, and we need to start winning races along with qualifying well. It's time to win a race. We are really very motivated right now especially since we've come up short a few times now and we have some catching up to do in the championship. I have nothing to lose now and we're looking to capitalize of a fast car. I'm very appreciative of the Target team hard work these past few weeks but we have to go for it now."

After overcoming a gearbox issue after just four laps completed in the second practice, Scott Dixon posted a third best time of 202.194 mph (23.1461 seconds), but not after a little bit of drama. On his first warm up lap, the gear position sensor read neutral, causing it to run on the limiter. Dixon brought the car into the pits, the team made the proper adjustments, then sent the no.9 Target car back out within a few short minutes to grab the inside spot on the second row for the Saturday night race.

"It shows what the Target team can do when we didn't even get a chance to do a single qualifying simulation in practice, overcame a gearbox issue on the warm up lap and then qualify that high up so I'm pretty pleased," said Dixon who has started fourth or better in eight of nine races this season to date. ""It started this morning when in the second session, we blew the gearbox in two laps. We couldn't really get any time in the car. We had to come back here, change the gearbox and then the shift-pod was in the wrong position. It was stuck on the neutral. We ended up doing about 140 mph. Luckily, the guys got it sorted, and we got to go out and do one lap for qualifying. Third's better than last. It will probably be another big battle against the Penskes but we have some ground to make up with just six races left. It should definitely be a crowd pleaser."

Concrete Challenge This Weekend--

For the ninth race of the 2006 season, Target Chip Ganassi Racing will race 200 laps (266 miles) on the 1.33 mile concrete track of Nashville Superspeedway. It is third and final night race on the schedule and the only track on the schedule to have a concrete surface, putting more emphasis on handling. As the ambient temperature drops when the sun goes down, the concrete does not lose temperature as quickly as asphalt making estimates on grip difficult to make. The abrasive nature of the track surface affects tire wear which often plays a huge part in how the race plays out. The by-product of tire wear produces a residue of rubber deposits, otherwise known as marbles, making any passing attempts more of a "concrete" challenge.

The (Championship) Race is On!--

Hornish (300 points) takes over the lead in the IndyCar Series Championship race ahead of his teammate Helio Castroneves (280 points) who finished sixth in the race. Dixon (261 points) remains third, 39 points behind the leader, while Wheldon (257 points) trails his Target teammate by four.

Glance at the Rear View Mirror--

In 2003, Scott Dixon earned the pole position and finished second, his best finish at Nashville Superspeedway. Dan Wheldon's best start at Nashville was fourth in 2004 and his best finish was a fourth in 2003.

Catch it LIVE--

Target fans can tune in to watch the Firestone Indy 200 at 9 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, July 15 on ESPN and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com.

-cgr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing